The New Psychology of Leadership

29 Sep 2010

Confirming what those of us in the coaching, leadership and team dynamics games preach every week, becoming a great leader is less about bluster and command and more about caring and sharing, according to a new analysis of the psychology behind leadership and followership.

"The New Psychology of Leadership" (S. Alexander Haslam, Stephen Reicher & Michael J. Platow) analyses 81 of the World's greatest leaders, from Attila the Hun to Barak Obama. Professor Haslam says leaders gain power and hold power not by being rough and tough, but by being recognised as one of the people. Leaders create in followers a sense of being "special"; a feeling of belonging to the group; and seek to understand the values and opinions of their followers - rather than assuming absolute authority, he says.

"The real secret about leaders is it is not about me, it is about the group" he concludes.

One of the most interesting parts of the book to me is the observation that all leaders seem to have a shelf life. Success often begins to make them think they know better and have all the answers, in effect losing contact with the group. When that happens, their popularity wains. I can think of a number of examples.......

The seven "leadership secrets" for success: 

1 Be sensitive to followers

2 Be positive and inspirational

3 Treat followers with respect 

4 Work hard for the group

5 Meet or exceed followers' expectations 

6 Support followers

7 Don't be overbearing or arrogant 

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